Macron defends French pension plan on national television
French President Emmanuel Macron delivers his speech during the National Roundtable on Diplomacy at the foreign ministry in Paris, Thursday, March 16, 2023. President Macron will explain how he will seek to overcome tensions prompted by his plan to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. Macron will appear on national television on Wednesday, March 23, 3034 for the first time since his government forced through the bill age amid mass protests. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)

PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday that the pension bill that he pushed through without a vote in parliament needs to be implemented by the “end of the year.”

Macron, who made the comments in an interview broadcast on national television, said the bill that raises the retirement age from 62 to 64 will “continue its democratic path” as the Constitutional Council needs to review it in the coming weeks.

It was the first time that Macron had spoken publicly since his government forced the pension bill through parliament last week, prompting scattered protests in Paris and across the country, some degenerating into violence.

READ: Protests erupt in France over Macron's retirement age push

The 45-year-old French president repeatedly said that he was convinced the retirement system needed to be modified to keep it financed.

The 45-year-old French president repeatedly said that he was convinced the retirement system needed to be modified to keep it financed.

His decision last week to use a special constitutional power to push the bill through the legislative process without a vote infuriated many at parliament and across the country.

Since then, mostly small, scattered protests are being held every day in cities around France, some degenerating into violence, including in Paris.

Dock workers in Marseille on Wednesday blocked access to the city’s commercial port — France’s biggest — preventing trucks and cars from entering amid a heavy police presence.

Garbage was still piling up on some Paris streets as sanitation workers entered their 17th day of the strike. Authorities issued an order in recent days requiring some garbage employees to ensure a “minimum service” for health reasons.

Oil shipments in the country were partially disrupted amid strikes at several refineries in western and southern France. Gas stations in the country’s southeast region are currently the most affected by shortages.

Unions have called for new nationwide protests and strikes on Thursday to demand that the government simply withdraw the retirement bill. High-speed and regional trains, Paris metro and other public transportation in major cities were expected to be disrupted.

The pension bill still needs to be reviewed by the Constitutional Council before it can take effect.

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